“Give me ten good reasons to be atheist. I bet you can’t.”
This was, of course, a message from a devout Christian with a grisly image of Christ on the cross as his profile pic. He had never spoken to me, nor did I know who he was. This was a total stranger who was upset because I, an atheist, had the nerve to exist.
But angry as he seemed to be, he was also right. I cannot give you ten good reasons to be an atheist, making this article in itself nonsensical.
But what am I if not willing to dive into nonsense head first with glee?
You probably already know there is only one good reason to be an atheist. There are not ten. But, you know what? We’re going to play the game anyway. We’re going to jump into this ridiculous question because I am, when you break everything down, essentially a middle-aged troll, and it sounds like fun. Okay? Okay.
Atheism is Not a Choice
What are the reasons to be an atheist? The very question implies that being an atheist is a choice. It’s not a choice. You cannot choose to believe in something you’re not convinced of, and you cannot choose to stop believing in something you are convinced is true.
To understand this, we must go back to the day I found out Santa was not real. It was actually Easter, or a few days later, anyway. My mom was in the backyard lying in the spring sun, and my dad was at work, I think. I was alone in the house and decided it was my opportunity to secretly dig into my Easter basket and shovel treats in my mouth (I realize not much has changed since then) without anyone yelling about spoiling my dinner. I climbed up on the kitchen counter to grab my Easter basket, which was on top of the fridge. As I reached for it, looking at the woven, pastel plastic, something dawned on me. This was the same Easter basket I’d gotten last year. I was standing on the counter, staring at my Easter basket as the cogs in my little head turned, and it finally hit me. My parents were the Easter Bunny. Not many things can get my mind off treats, but I forgot all about them. I hopped down and sprinted to the backyard.
“Mom!” I yelled as I ran toward her sun cot.
“What is it, honey?” She squinted as she sat up.
“Mom,” I began, standing next to her now and looking her straight in the eyes. “Do you promise to tell me the truth?”
“Of course. What is it?”
“Are you and dad the Easter Bunny?”
“Yes. We are.” She didn’t even flinch.
And from that moment forward, I lacked a belief in Santa. There was never a day between that one and today when I could have chosen to get that belief back.
Atheism, as most modern atheists agree to define it, is a lack of belief in gods. No matter your answer to “what is an atheist?“, atheism is not a choice. It’s a description of that lack of belief. It’s very much like my lack of belief in Santa or your lack of belief in my ability to travel outside of the galaxy. I cannot choose to believe in a god any more than you can choose to believe that I can hop in my rocket and book it out of the Milky Way right now. The only way for me to be able to believe in a god is for me to be convinced that one exists.
Of course, whether or not you choose to openly identify as an atheist is absolutely a choice. You may fit the definition of an atheist and choose not to use the label for any reason, including the stigma attached to it, the danger it might put you in, or the need to distance yourself from hideous atheists and the things they’ve said and done. You get to define what and who you are and what you identify with, and it ain’t none of my business.
However, for those of us who do identify as atheists, atheism is not a choice, and that means that a list of reasons to be atheist is a fairly useless thing. Especially when you consider the fact that,
Atheists Are Not Trying To Bring You To The Dark Side
If there’s anything most atheists understand, it’s that losing your faith is a scary and traumatic experience for many people. When your belief begins to unravel, it’s terrifying, and you can become filled with self-doubt and shame. Many atheists who were once believers lost their community, friends, and family when they realized they no longer believed. This was not something they chose to do because someone made a great case for why you should be an atheist. It happened because they were no longer convinced that a god existed. We understand this, even those of us, myself included, who have always been atheists.
As such, we know it’s a futile exercise to try and convince a believer that they should be an atheist because it’s a better choice. As we’ve already covered, it’s not a choice. You have to go through that process on your own. No one can make that choice for you.
Of course, we do sometimes have the ability to cause doubt in god or present arguments that may make you see things in another way. We can certainly be the catalyst to leaving your religion and losing your faith. But we can’t force you to consciously choose to stop believing in a god you are convinced is real. We would, instead, have to convince you that god is not real. It is especially futile to provide a list of reasons why you should be an atheist because we know that you cannot choose to be an atheist. It’s not as if a believer will see that list and be like, “wait, wait, wait, they have orgies on a new moon? COUNT ME IN!” They’ll still believe in a god, even if they want to get wet and wild at one of our lunar slam-o-ramas. If they still believe, they’re not an atheist. That’s that.
Reasons Why Some Religious People Think We’re Atheists:
Most religious people don’t give a ham sandwich if I believe or not, but there are some, like our little friend from my DMs earlier, who do not like that atheists exist. For some reason, our very presence in this world sends them into an uncontrollable fit. They’ll spew nonsense, lies, and ad hominems just to feel like they’re better than one of us. These types of people go to the gym every day to maintain the strength to move the goalposts faster than JJ Watt can fuck up the Nae Nae. They can build a straw man with more efficiency than Ellie Williams can sling a bad pun.
Given this, many of them have decided that they know better than us why we have become atheists. The reasons include:
We just want to sin – atheists cannot sin. We don’t believe in sin. Sin is a religious construct. Not to mention the fact that we’re all unwillingly aware of how much religious people sin despite being believers, so being an atheist makes no difference.
We are angry at god – It is a true challenge to be genuinely angry with someone you don’t believe exists. Even as I watched the Red Wedding or Negan kill Glenn, I felt all kinds of emotions, but I was not genuinely angry at Negan or Lord Frey because I knew these were characters and they weren’t real.
We have been traumatized by the church – I mean, there are many of us, like myself, who never went to church, never knew religious leaders, and were never even exposed to much religion until well after we realized we were atheists. I’ve had my fair share of trauma, but none of it was at the hands of the church or related to religion in any way.
We worship ourselves – Listen, honey, if I worshipped myself, I wouldn’t eat nearly as many Fuego Takis as I do.
We don’t want to live by anyone else’s rules – Except that we already do. We live by the rule of law, much of which was implemented by men who lived generations ago. You’re also going to have a hard time explaining why we need to be an atheist to defy God’s rules when so many religious people do it all the time.
We want to be our own authority on morality – Morality is derived from empathy, compassion, consequences, and our conscience. This is true whether you believe in god or not.
We think it makes us smarter – I certainly do not. I have met many very intelligent religious people, and I am sure I will meet many more.
We want to be free – Even by your religious doctrine, we are free whether we believe or not. The Biblical God gave us free will, right? So why would we have to be atheists to experience freedom?
We are nihilists – some atheists are indeed nihilists, but most of us aren’t.
We feel atheism will better our lives – this is impossible. Leaving religion may better the lives of some atheists, but apostasy is not atheism, and atheism itself is not prescriptive. There are no rules or instructions for life. You have to find your own way.
These reasons are all absurd and in no way reflect the lived experiences of atheists. They are, instead, a way for religious people to feel as though they’re better than us. It’s funny because the best way to actually be better in this situation would be to just accept that atheists exist, be cool with us, and understand that we know best why we’re atheists. But alas, that is too challenging. It’s like asking a Catholic priest not to do his sermon in drag.
There is Only One Reason to be an Atheist
Now that we know all the wrong reasons to be an atheist, it’s time for the right one, and there is only one.
You are an atheist if you lack belief in a god or gods.
That is it. Your reason for being an atheist. The first and the last. It’s shorter than covfefe. It’s as simple as Boebert’s brain. It’s less complicated than booking the Four Seasons for your press conference.
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